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Are you dancing?

posted May 8, 2012, 6:17 AM by Lisa Shelley   [ updated May 15, 2013, 6:38 AM ]
Over the years I have participated in countless employee engagement team efforts.  These efforts always ran the same course.  Results were received from the biennial employee feedback survey, a business level effort was launched to address the feedback, low scoring areas were identified to be worked, and teams were established to identify and implement actions to address the low scores.  A pretty straight-forward process for an execution-oriented business.  Was it effective?  I'm not sure.  Those of us involved with these efforts certainly wanted to believe so, however often I think changes in the overall economic climate had a greater effect on the future survey results than the actions identified and implemented by the teams.  Employee survey results do tend to trend with the business climate.  

Over these same years there were often instances where changes implemented by one year's engagement effort were reversed by a subsequent team 6+ years later.  Did something change relative to what employees wanted?  Or did we fail to ask why 5 times and get to the true root cause?  Or is it possible that we implemented a fix to an individual question without maintaining adequate focus and perspective on the big picture... why that question was considered pertinent to employee engagement in the first place?

At the highest level, people want to use their talents to make a valued impact on something they believe is important.  Those fortunate enough to work in an environment that provides this experience will demonstrate the highest level of engagement... regardless of the current economic climate.  This experience can be broken down into a culture that provides three key elements:  Inspiration, Empowerment and Respect.  These elements can be further broken down into a variety of different survey questions.  Unfortunately focusing solely on a few individual questions, without first stepping back to look at how they fit into the overall system, is likely to produce results that will easily be over-shadowed by the next up or down-turn in the business cycle.

We live in a world of interdependencies.  Nothing exists in isolation.  A piece of information seems to tell us one thing, but when we consider that information in a different context, it tells a completely different story.  Obtaining sustainable results requires defining actions while allowing your perspective to dance between the big picture impact you are striving for and the detail level where you must execute your changes.  A systems approach.  Are you dancing with your data?